Coaches Flowin' to Eval Bowen

Programs are lining up to get a chance to check out the three-star New Jersey linebacker during the evaluation period.

Each week, Rob Davis sends a calendar to Manny Bowen. It's the only way either can keep track of what colleges are coming to Barnegat, N.J., on any particular day.

The coaches can only talk in depth to Davis, the head coach at Barnegat High. But they come to learn about Bowen, a 6-foot-2, 206-pound three-star linebacker with 22 offers.

Wednesday brought Penn State, Miami, South Carolina and Maryland to the Garden State school. Ohio State, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Rutgers are expected Thursday.

"My whole mood right now is neutral," Bowen said. "I'm just taking it all in, and this [evaluation] period is a big advantage for me. I'm picking up a thing or two, and the next step is getting out and seeing these schools with my own eyes."

Offensive coordinator John Donovan and defensive coordinator Bob Shoop represented the Nittany Lions Wednesday. Bowen said he immediately felt good vibes when the duo walked through the door, citing his familiarity with both from a spring practice visit to University Park.

Word had circulated that the linebacker would attend Penn State's spring game, but Bowen said those plans were never set in stone. He spoke with both Shoop and linebackers coach Brent Pry to inform them that he wouldn't be able to make it, but that he wanted to return this summer.

"The relationship I have with those coaches ... we're off to a great start," Bowen said of PSU. "It was great to see [Shoop and Donovan] again, and they are great guys and great coaches.

"When I saw practice, I saw what their philosophy is all about and what they believe in as a team and coaches."

Bowen said he and Pry immediately hit it off when he visited for a spring practice. He also met some of Penn State's current verbal commitments while on campus. He said he speaks mostly with Whitehall, Pa., running back Saquon Barkley and Class of 2014 tight end signee Mike Gesicki.

"He's an amazing coach, and we are building a great relationship," Bowen said of Pry. "He's always positive, and [Penn State head] Coach [James] Franklin is a great guy.

"I love Penn State's coaching staff. A couple of their commits have been getting in my ear, and I've been building a relationship with other recruits and learning a lot."

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio did Miami's bidding Wednesday. Bowen said during previous conversations, the Hurricane assistant has stressed not just the program's tradition but also provided background on head coach Al Golden.

He's also wasted no time diving into football talk, which Bowen has enjoyed.

"He cut right to the chase, and I love getting to the football part and talking about assignments and what kind of player they see me as," Bowen said. "Now, it's just a matter of making it down there to see it in person."

Turning an eye to Thursday, Bowen said it represents the first time Ohio State will be by the school. He added he has no previous contact with the Buckeyes.

He has had plenty with Rutgers, though, both in person and through social media and phone calls.

"I hit them about once a week, and obviously with it being my home state college, I have a really good relationship with them," Bowen said. "Whenever I'm on campus, it's not like I'm away at college but I'm here.

"Rutgers is a great school, and they get down to business. I watched practice, and was amazed with their alertness and the football IQ that all their coaches have."

The junior believes big things could be in store for the program when it transitions to the Big Ten this fall.

"I was amazed with Rutgers," he said. "I think they're going to surprise a lot of people."

Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Brown has formed a close bond with Bowen. He said the Badgers, along with Iowa (thanks to defensive assistant Jim Reid and running backs coach Chris White ) are two programs that are not talked about much in his recruitment yet have shot up his list.

The Hawkeyes, Bowen said, join Penn State as programs that have made clear that he is a priority.

"They are after me every day, and really want to get to know me," Bowen said of Iowa. "We are talking every single day, and you can just see they really want me. They show a high amount of interest."

So do the Badgers.

"Wisconsin is another school that you don't hear about much, but I have a great relationship with Coach Brown," Bowen said.

A summer visit schedule will be set in the near future, Bowen said, but no specific dates or schools have been selected yet.


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